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Phoenix Fire’s new arson dog, Sonny, is department’s 1st in 6 years

(KTAR News/Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX — A furry, 65-pound sniffing machine is one of the Phoenix Fire Department’s newest employees.

Sonny, a 2 1/2-year-old golden retriever and yellow lab mix, helps the department sniff for accelerants and signs of arson during fire investigations.

The pup — the department’s first arson dog in about six years — started training with Capt. Robby Simpson in April and recently received his certification.

“He’s a great resource for the department,” Simpson said. “Everybody loves him and everybody loves to see him. He loves to see them.”

It’s a stroke of fortune the department ended up with Sonny.

He was bred to be a disability service dog, but failed that program.

“He’s got a lot of drive to sniff and search,” Simpson said. “But he’s all goof.”

Simpson said the department felt a need for an arson dog and inquired about the possibility of getting one about a year ago.

The department then reached out to insurance company State Farm, which sponsors a program for arson dogs, and was accepted for it.

The company paid for Sonny’s four weeks of training, and he has been with the department ever since.

Simpson said other departments request Sonny’s services since there are only two arson dogs in the Valley.

When the two aren’t working, they like to relax and spend time together at home.

“He’s a very lovable social dog,” Simpson said. “When we go home, he’s all puppy. When we go to work, he’s social but he understands when he needs to become serious.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.

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